Liam in line for first cap

Rochdale Observer - - SPORT -

ENG­LAND have called up un­capped Lan­cashire bats­man Liam Livingstone and re­turn­ing pace­man Mark Wood for the two-match Test se­ries in New Zealand.

Eng­land play two warm-up matches in Hamil­ton be­fore their gru­elling win­ter sched­ule fi­nally comes to a close with Tests in Auck­land on March 22 and Christchurch on March 30.

Livingstone, 24, is the spare bats­man on tour and will likely push harder for a place than Gary Bal­lance, who re­sem­bled lit­tle more than a place holder dur­ing the Ashes.

The Cum­brian bats­man edged out Eng­land Li­ons team-mates Dan Lawrence and Joe Clarke in a se­lec­tion process de­layed for 24 hours by cap­tain Joe Root’s vi­ral ill­ness.

He is an ag­gres­sive and in­no­va­tive pres­ence at the crease and, though he failed to im­press when he made his Eng­land bow in two Twen­ty20s against South Africa last sum­mer, Livingstone has plenty of ad­mir­ers in the na­tional set-up, not least the in­flu­en­tial Andy Flower.

Livingstone is un­der­stand­ably ec­static with his mai­den Test call-up and ea­ger to make an im­pact when he links up with Eng­land.

He said on Lan­cashire’s of­fi­cial web­site: “It is a huge hon­our to have been named in the Eng­land Test squad for the first time. Test match cricket is the pin­na­cle and some­thing that ev­ery player works to­wards through­out their ca­reer.

“As a kid I al­ways wanted to play Test match cricket for Eng­land and I’m de­ter­mined to take my chance if I get an op­por­tu­nity in New Zealand.

“I had a taste of what it’s like to play for Eng­land in the T20 se­ries against South Africa last sum­mer, but to pull on the Three Li­ons in a Test shirt would be a dream come true.

“I’m so ex­cited to get out there and show what I can do.”

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